Realtor Income Up 25 Percent in 2012

by Peter Thomas Ricci

For the second straight year, both the income and business activity for Realtors increased in 2012, with incomes jumping by 25 percent.

2012 was a good year for Realtors, with both business activity and income up for the second straight year, according to the latest member profile from the National Association of Realtors.

That’s after nine straight years of declines, and Realtor income, which increased 25 percent to $43,500, was at its highest level since the peak of the housing boom in 2006. Here in Chicago, agent income in 2012 was $96,266 according to our latest Truth About Agents survey, a 2 percent increase from 2011 but a 37 percent leap from 2010.

Incomes, Specialties and Impediments

As is the case with all of NAR’s reports, its 2012 Member Profile is choke-full of valuable information about Realtor business, including:

  • Realtor income generally increases with experience and weekly hours worked; for instance, Realtors with 16 or more years in experience earned a median of $57,300, while Realtors who worked 60-plus hours a week earned a median of $85,700.
  • Among Realtors on the transaction side, annual deals increased from 10 in 2011 to 12 in 2012.
  • Eight of 10 Realtors focus on residential sales, and 73 percent have secondary specialties, with 17 percent offering relocation services, 8 percent counseling and 7 percent land development.
  • Similarly, 39 percent hold a least one certification in specialized training, with 23 percent having the most popular certificate of Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource, and 17 percent having e-Pro, the second most popular.
  • Referrals remain a major source of business for Realtors, with repeat business accounting for 21 percent of all transactions in 2012; for more experienced Realtors, referrals made up 40 percent of business activity.

The Cyclical Nature of Real Estate

Gary Thomas, the current president of NAR, said the real estate industry has gone through some interesting changes in the last 11 years – when the all-time record of Realtor income was set – and the Realtor profession has changed with it.

“Realtors have some way to go to surpass the peak income recorded back in 2002,” he said. “Interestingly, the peak wasn’t during the bubble years because there were way too many people in the business. To help smooth out the peaks and valleys associated with residential sales, many Realtors are diversified into related services. As a result, changes in Realtor income don’t exactly parallel changes in home sales and prices.”

As we stated before, NAR’s profile included far more information than what we could include in one article, and we’ll be writing a follow-up story this week on the profile’s other major findings.

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